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Marvel Has Been Successful Because It’s Better at Being Different

marvel better different

Until the end of the “superhero golden era” finally comes, we won’t be able to analyze the full impact that Marvel Studios has had with its cinematic universe of movies. But even though we don’t have the full picture at our disposal, everyone has their own reasonable guess for how and why Marvel been the dominant superhero movie franchise for nearly a decade, in terms of both critical and fan reception.

Some of the effects of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) are quite obvious, and I think that’s why vague observations about Marvel Studios are tossed around by its naysayers. When you think of shared universe movies — that is, movies that share the same characters and other sandbox elements without being direct sequels — you might feel the urge to groan a bit, especially if you watch and keep up with a lot of different movie franchises that all strive to replicate what Marvel did so well with Iron Man in 2008.

Sony tried to kickstart a Spider-Man shared universe of villains and ultimately failed. Universal has long been planning a shared universe of monster movies, citing they could have the “Avengers” of Dracula, the Frankenstein monster, the Wolfman, and more. Even a Hanna-Barbera cinematic universe is reportedly in the works, planned to kick off with a new Scooby Doo movie. And this year’s Ghostbusters ends with a universe-setting teaser straight out of the ambiguously defined Marvel formula.

Marvel’s most direct rival, and for several obvious, yet key reasons, is DC Comics, which Warner Bros. owns the exclusive rights to. After a hugely successful trilogy of Batman movies, all helmed by Christopher Nolan and universally praised by fans and critics, Warner Bros. took the next logical step toward establishing a shared universe of their own that could do for Wonder Woman and the Flash what Marvel managed for Iron Man and Captain America, just to name a few.

marvel better different

Remember, just one year after Nolan’s Batman trilogy ended with The Dark Knight Rises, Warner Bros. released Man of Steel, the perfunctory beginning of what was meant to be something completely different compared to anything put out by Marvel Studios.

Except, well, Marvel has already  been “different” by its own standards for years, and it’s found great success doing so, while DC Comics hasn’t. At least not on the same scale.

To be fair, Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice were not financial failures, but they did fail to live up to their profitable potential, making less money domestically than Deadpool, which is based on a character far less popular and recognizable than Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. And even more recently, Suicide Squad has been panned by critics for sharing a lot of the same flaws of these movies, though it will still open to huge box office numbers, regardless.

What’s odd, then, is that the films have been criticized by many for being too different, using phrases like joyless and dark to color a picture of a movie that doesn’t deliver the same experience viewers got with most of the Marvel movies.

marvel better different

Supporters of these DC Comics movies have a right to call out this opinion for being intellectually dishonest. Of course a movie like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is different, they say. If it were the same formula as a movie like The Avengers, then critics would complain just as feverishly.

Both sides of this argument have it wrong, then. Because what they both forget is that while there is a bare-bones formula to the Marvel movies that makes them feel cohesive — that is, it’s easy to believe the movies exist in the same universe at all — none of them are all that similar to any of the others in just about every other way, unless the movie is a sequel, and even then, Marvel movies have a habit of changing entire subgenres in between their sequels.

One of the best and most famous examples of Marvel being “different” involves the entirety of what sets up the first Avengers movie, which serendipitously released the same year as The Dark Knight Rises. The very concept of setting up an ensemble superhero film after several standalone pictures that establish the characters was brand new at the time and, more importantly, untested.

Yet The Avengers is the highest-grossing superhero film of all time and was universally acclaimed by moviegoers, which holds up even today.

marvel better different

It’s fair to judge Marvel for being good at being different based on the fact that people loved The Avengers, despite how risky the structure of it was, and because it provided a sizable return on investment both financially and even culturally, hence we’re even having this debate about superhero movies being different.

What’s even more interesting, though, is the fact that Marvel movies have continued to be different and surprising, even though they have a proven formula they could repeat on end to minimize the risk of failure.

For example, the Marvel films that have truly defied expectations include Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man, arnhich were both proven hits for the studio, despite being completely different from any other Marvel film in tone, structure, and many other crucial elements.

Guardians of the Galaxy is an action comedy set in space, and most of its characters aren’t even human. That’s a far cry from any other comic book film, period, let alone Marvel movies like Iron Man and even Thor. The premise of Ant-Man is absurd enough, despite the movie actually taking place on Earth. Yet it feels so different as a superhero movie because first and foremost, it’s really a heist film with bits of Edgar Wright’s unique editing style thrown in.

marvel better different

The upcoming Doctor Strange, set to release this November, is also a movie that — judging by the marketing and previous knowledge of the character — looks and feels different from previous Marvel offerings, because it seems to be tackling unchartered territory in terms of fantasy elements and dimensional science for the hero of that movie to experience.

These movies, excluding the as of yet unseen Doctor Strange, have been hits with both critics and casual audiences because yes, they’re different. So it’s strange, then, when both critics and naysayers of Marvel movies speak as if this cinematic universe has a firm license on vague storytelling elements, like humor and quipping. There’s a desire for DC to be the other side of the coin, different and more progressive than what might be called a mainstream superhero franchise with Marvel.

The problem with that desire, though, is that Marvel has already been the other side of that coin, and the other side of many coins that they, themselves, have inserted into the zeitgeist of superhero films. They don’t always get it right, of course, and some of their risks have been paid off better than others, but if DC should take notes on being “different” for the sake of surprising and delighting its fans, it should really be paying more attention to Marvel. Not less.

Because being different, while a good start, is not a merit on its own. Fantastic Four was different, which we can all agree on. But that definitely didn’t improve what was inherently flawed with that film. A non-Marvel movie that’s great at being different is Deadpool, made by Fox, proving that a superhero film doesn’t have to be made by Disney in order for it to be beloved by just about everyone old enough to see it.

marvel better different

I still have high hopes for DC Comics moving forward, though not nearly as high as I used to three years ago. But if you’re reading this and feeling a bit alienated because you want DC Comics and Warner Bros. to keep taking risks and producing films with these iconic characters that demand to be different from what we’ve seen before, then you can definitely take solace in one, major thing: The DC Comics movie universe under Geoff Johns — their new Chief Creative Officer and co-developer of The Flash on CW — kicks off next year with Wonder Woman.

And from what we’ve seen so far of that movie, the future could still be quite bright (not dark) for DC Comics.


I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

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Snarcasm: The ‘Doctor Strange’ Teaser Is an Insult to Humanity

doctor strange trailer

Snark + Sarcasm = what you’re about to read.

Hating everything in sight for no good reason is just the Internet thing to do these days, and that point is not lost on Megan Purdy, editor-in-chief of Women Write About Comics.

Upon the release of Marvel’s first teaser for Doctor Strange, Megan and her band of professional YouTube commenters decided to get together with their favorite thesaurus and write about how much it sucks.

Tagged under RaceRacism, and several other SEO boosts, Megan writes:

That Dr. Strange Trailer Sure Is Awful

Gosh darn it! It’s just the most awful thing, and Megan’s roundtable (don’t worry, that’s tagged, too) is here to spell out why.

The Dr. Strange trailer. So… it’s here.

Yikes. AWKward.

We hated it.

WHAT?! The headline was accurate?! Let’s begin with Megan talking.

This seems like a trailer for four movies in one: The Matrix, Inception, Eat Pray Love and a watery wuxia ripoff for white America.

Wow, a brief teaser is vague enough to have similar imagery to a few movies. The nerve. Also, where does the Eat Pray Love movie fit in? What, because he travels? Is that how low your bar is?

doctor strange trailer
It’s basically plagiarism.

Interesting that your “water wuxia ripoff for white America” couldn’t just be summarized with an actual movie to get your point across, by the way. I mean it’s a thesaurus, not a existing knowledge of actual films.

It’s visually confused and so derivative that it makes no argument for its own existence.

Yeah, that teaser is such a tease. I mean what other movies are about a doctor who travels the world in search of a cure for his broken hands, only to stumble across a mystical force that transcends dimensions? Too many to count! Remember when Neo’s soul got punched out by Tilda Swinton in Matrix ReCumberbatched?

It relies entirely on exoticism and flash

Yeah, whatever happened to uninteresting and boring comic book movies?

here is a proud white man brought low, walking into the East to meet his destiny, and inevitably, become not just any old magician, but the Sorcerer Supreme.

It’s almost as if they’re making a movie based on an existing comic book. But Megan would know that if she wrote for Women Write…About Comics.

And is Doctor Strange a proud white man? Well, first of all, his value as a character has nothing to do with his skin color, so that’s irrelevant. Is he proud? Sure, which is what makes his forced humility an interesting point of the movie. Making him perfect and politically correct would be like having Anakin Skywalker not become Darth Vader in Revenge of the Sith.

doctor strange trailer
Or worse.

He finds greatness by searching outside of himself, presumably. But why is this a bad thing? And how does this relate to that dreaded “exoticism and flash” you were bemoaning a sentence ago?

First Benedict Cumberbatch was Khan Noonien Singh — not just any old nemesis of Captain Kirk, but an Asian warlord who ruled a future territory spreading from South East Asia to the Middle East — and now he’s a white doctor learning magic in Tibet.

“First, he played a white character. Then he played another white character. Can you believe it?”

Seriously, I have no idea what Megan is trying to say here. Khan was never Asian, just a perfectly bred human played by a white actor who ruled much of Asia and the Middle East. And that’s not even how he’s presented when Cumberbatch plays him in Into Darkness. And why is this even being discussed, anyway?

You have a problem with white people learning superpowers from people who aren’t white? That’s too specific of a complaint, even for Megan Purdy..

The Ancient One, a Tibetan mystic and sorcerer played by fellow white Brit Tilda Swinton, is his Morpheus, who we meet in a scene that’s straight ripped from The Matrix.

Yeah, straight from The Matrix. Because they were in a room, and there were some vaguely Asian aesthetics. And…that’s about it. Oh, wait! Neo groveled “Teach me!” after being shown incredible mystical powers outside the realm of his understanding!

What? Oh, that didn’t happen at all. He just fought Morpheus in a computer simulation. But let’s not bring up the fact that over half of The Matrix pays homage to dozens of movies. You know, because that’s what lots of great movies do.

doctor strange trailer
Go on, then.

What do I know about this film, based on this trailer?

That you weren’t really paying attention because you were triggered from the first frame?

It’s, well, pretty damn racist,

It’s not a little racist. It’s not even just racist. It’s pretty damn racist. Impressive for a two minute teaser.

and it doesn’t seem to have a clear purpose or audience in mind.

No audience! Not even Doctor Strange fans, Marvel fans, comic book fans, movie fans, Benedict Cumberbatch fans, Tilda Swinton fans, film buffs, or (breath) people who don’t read anything on Women Write About Comics because clearly that’s a website where they don’t bother to also like comics. Well, the Doctor Strange ones at least.

I mean seriously, how are you the editor-in-chief of a website about comics, and you can’t even judge from a comic book movie teaser WHY said movie exists?

Why is there a Dr. Strange movie?

Because everyone is out to hurt you.

Because Marvel could make one?

Uh, yeah. And that’s a good reason. Marvel has gotten to the point where they’ve had so much success with niche comic book movies like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man, that they can now present the Doctor Strange story in a way deserving of the character based on trust from the bankrollers.

But according to Megan, Marvel simply said, “Eh screw it. We can do this thing, so let’s do this thing.” Because that’s how Marvel makes multi-million dollar decisions.

Why would they do this after all the criticism from their fans?

Yeah, remember when all the fans criticized Marvel for making good movies based on their favorite comics they never thought they’d get to see on the big screen?

Well. Because they don’t care.

Hmmm…well, that’s the kindergarten reaction to the question you presented. The first-grade answer is, “Because Marvel is gross!”

doctor strange trailer

Next, we have Ray Sonne commenting on this winning roundtable.

Okay, putting aside how horrifyingly offensive this trailer is because I’m not the best person to discuss it, what the hell?

Easy, Ray, it’s a teaser trailer. It’s just a bunch of moving pictures that aren’t real and you’re going to be fine.

A trailer, as an effective marketing tool, is supposed to give the audience a basic idea of the movie’s story and characters without spoiling any surprises.

Yeah. Did you, uh, see this teaser? Did you…did you watch it, Ray?

But when you watch this trailer, you’re basically receiving a bunch of scattered details that make zero damn sense.

Look, I can sort of see how someone completely unfamiliar with Doctor Strange might be a little confused by specific moments in this teaser. But how is someone who writes for Women Write About Comics not understanding what happens in a Doctor Strange teaser that aligns almost exactly with the origin story for this character?

doctor strange trailer

Seriously, this teaser was not that complicated. Benedict Cumberbatch plays a skilled doctor in search of something greater, and he stumbles upon something much, much greater than he could have ever predicted. That’s plenty to tease the audience with, especially for fans who can fill in the blanks.

So Benedict Cumberbatch is a doctor who did good doctor things?

WHAT IS THIS WEBSITE?

But then something bad happens to him and, oh no, he has bruise makeup on his face?

The most humorous thing about this entire piece is that there are plenty of valid criticisms of this teaser, like the “I don’t know if I like this” accent Cumberbatch has. But Ray is so far removed from reality right now, she’s criticizing a character with bruise makeup as if that’s the biggest cinematic insult since “I hate sand. It gets everywhere.”

So he goes to… some undefined part of Asia, which other people need to tell me is Tibet? Why does he do this? I suppose I would have some idea if I had an inkling of this guy’s personality or background, but alas.

“Trailers shouldn’t spoil the story! Now someone tell the people who made this trailer to give us tons of information on this character’s personality and then spell out the whole plot.”

This trailer didn’t need to give us all of the details. We can see glimpses into who Stephen Strange is, based on the tragedy that begins the teaser, his journey to overcoming these problems, and then a strong desire to learn the art of mysticism. You can’t even complain that these are only discernible from knowing the comic because most of these tidbits are delivered via narration.

He meets Tilda Swinton, who is living in Tibet and knows “Tibetan” magic because… what?

Please stop talking until you understand that the Ancient One uses sorcery, not “Tibetan magic.”

And then…Cumberbatch learns magic and shit? And apparently he has potential, but why does he want to explore his potential in corny magic instead of, like, dog-training?

Seriously, stop.

If you were expecting some big bad villain who hammers home the theme and the main source of conflict, haha joke’s on you.

Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised at this point if Ray outright said that she’s never seen a trailer. Or a movie.

Ray goes on to complain that this teaser recycles “last year’s blockbusters,” clearly admitting she has no idea when Matrix or Inception were released, and then Angel Cruz takes the stage.

This trailer is less infuriating than it is a lazy, inconsiderate piece of cinema being offered to people who are much smarter than Marvel gives them credit for.

Burn it! Burn it alive before it kills the smart people like us!

 It’s 2016, and we are still being fed orientalist stereotypes that are given free rein to continue damaging people with Asian heritage–

…You…you do realize that saying “oriental” is extremely offensive, right? Like you have to know that because you’re the Earth Politics Warrior of Cinema, Angel Cruz, right?

And yes, she’s actually claiming that this two minute teaser featuring a white woman who tells a white man about magic is damaging to Asian heritage…for all of the wrong reasons.

doctor strange trailer

I can understand complaints about Marvel whitewashing the Ancient One just to avoid these stereotypes that are obviously lost on Angel Cruz. But these commenters aren’t even complaining at this point because nothing they’re saying even connects with the teaser they’re criticizing, as evidenced by the fact that they keep calling it a “trailer.”

for what? Reaffirmation that white narratives will always be more valued?

You’re the only person saying that, but hey, if Nancy Grace can get away with it, so can you.

A reminder that Hollywood still believes that Asian stories have no validity without a white person at the center, controlling and living that narrative better than any Asian person ever could?

Except that Doctor Strange is not an “Asian story.” It’s about an American who goes to a fictionalized place in Asia to become a powerful sorcerer. He has always been the central figure of this story and that hasn’t changed. In fact, there have been Sorcerer Supremes in countries all over the world, and it just happens that the Ancient One resides in the Himalayas.

But hey, why let facts get in the way of pure, unbridled outrage?

It’s exhausting, yes, to see Benedict Cumberbatch and Tilda Swinton slinking into roles that so clearly appropriating Chinese, Tibetan, and South Asian cultures. Their acting abilities aren’t in question here, just their acceptance that they have the right to tell these stories instead of Asian actors.

I’m not even sure what else to say at this point. Angel clearly has no idea what she’s talking about or what Doctor Strange truly is as a comic. Now, we can debate, as I mentioned earlier, whether it was right or wrong for Marvel to sidestep the offensive Asian stereotypes that were present in the original comics with the Ancient One by casting an androgynous actor.

I see why they did it (the “wise” minority stereotype comes to mind), but it’s still cringeworthy. But is it the defining mistake of Hollywood? Not even close thanks to The Last Airbender.

It’s likewise exhausting to see all the nods to Asian art and motifs set in the background against white faces.

I’m 100% positive Angel would lose her mind if she walked inside a Panda Express.

She continues this tirade, citing that Marvel doesn’t care about her at all (oh, they’re so mean!) until Laura shows up to keep this all going.

I’m pretty convinced at this point that any Cumberbatch role is just Sherlock in a nicotine-haze trying to solve some nefarious crime, because it’s the only explanation for a Cumberbatch Strange.

Your inability to understand how actors can act in two separate roles because they’re good at acting says way more about you.

A Victorian England setting would also explain the over-the-top mystic orientalism, because there’s no way that’s a reasonable thing to propose in 2016 after getting slammed with criticism for the usage and treatment of The Mandarin, Black Sky, the Hand, and Iron Fist.

I’m guessing they were only “slammed” with criticism by readers of Women Write About Comics. All six of them.

And yet, here we are, and people are arguing on Twitter

NOOOOO, not Twitter! Not the last bastion of civil discussion and thoughtful conversations!

about how Strange needs to be white, but that the casting of The Ancient One is a problem, totally missing the point that a white person out-Asianing Asians is an issue no matter what character we’re talking about.

Is Stephen Strange out-Asianing Asians in this teaser? Nope, just doing the exact opposite, which is not doing that. Logic is a funny thing. Not haha funny in this case.

OK, but what does Desiree have to say in order to bring this whole thing home?

 I understood the trailer because I know Dr. Strange’s origins, and backstory.

Gird your loins everyone. They’re finishing this article with someone who claims to know what they’re talking about on a website about comics…presumably.

 I’ve written about them, and since then, Dr. Strange, as a movie, has only seemed to have gotten worse and worse.

Desiree links to another article worthy of Snarcasm, in which she complains that Marvel cast a white guy to play a white superhero from a comic book. She’s basically the inverse of those people who complained about Human Torch being played by Michael B. Jordan, as well as having a black stormtrooper in The Force Awakens.

doctor strange trailer
Or this guy.

It’s a bunch of modge-podged East and South Asian cultural references pieced together to look magical and exotic without any Asian people shown.

These “cultural references” without any Asian people shown include a guy walking through a village in the Middle East with natives all around him, establishing shots of exotic locations with no people in them by design, Chiwetel Eijofor walking through an Asian city with Asians all around him, Benedict Cumberbatch walking through another Middle Eastern location with Middle Easterners all around him, Tilda Swinton standing in a temple, an unrecognizable character using magic in a temple, more unrecognizable characters in an unrecognizable location, and…do I need to go on?

Each character in the trailer has adopted some bastardized form of East and South Asian cultural style yet none of them are Asian. Another movie that’s portraying an exotic, vaguely Asian culture entirely through the lens of white people.

And Chiwetel Eijofor.

Are there enough Asians in Doctor Strange? Well, how is anyone supposed to know based on a teaser marketed to American audiences?

Strange, in the comics, is an arrogant, skilled surgeon who loses the ability to use his hands and basically falls off the wagon.

And by “falls off the wagon,” you must mean “searches the world in search of a cure.”

 Strange then is seemingly “chosen” to be a candidate for Sorcerer Supreme because…reasons? Really, it was because it was the 70’s and white guys could do anything!

Or because you didn’t read the comics (since the first comic came out in 1963, not the 70s). Strange was an idealist, though arrogant. He was chosen because Baron Mordo (his rival) was corrupted by power, and Strange had proven to be a more selfless person who would use the authority of Sorcerer Supreme to protect, not to put his power over others.

That doesn’t make this an inoffensive story, obviously, but it was, in fact, the 60s. But to suggest that it was this simplistic is a straw man.

Yay, white male power fantasies!

Yay, I’m nearly done with this Snarcasm!

Seriously, we’re almost there, folks.

So Strange goes to Tibet and learns humility and magic and boom! Excels at magic so much he gains the title of Sorcerer Supreme.

No, Strange sacrifices his quest to heal his hands in order to serve the greater good, earning him the title. He’s not even that much better than everyone else at first, as Baron Mordo is more experienced and a true threat later on. His real skill lies in ingenuity and heart and please let this end soon.

That story is now so dated it’s laughable.

True. Which is why they’re probably updating the story.

Can anyone truly provide me with an argument that proves Stephen Strange needs to be white?

Wow, we’re actually going there. Well, first of all—

Other than, “that’s how it was in the comic.”

OK, so can I name a reason beside the main one that’s the most convincing? Hmmm, well yeah, I still can.

Doctor Strange has a very particular look and social class that affects his character. Shifting his appearance for the sake of it would alter his backstory, his ties to Western culture, and what makes his motivations work as a character. It would be like making Luke Cage a white guy.

doctor strange trailer
Or played by Carlton.

Strange’s embellished appearance, and even his whiteness, lends to his arrogance gifted from the epitome of privilege. He has to humble himself in order to find meaning outside of what he could achieve as a skilled surgeon in New York. Altering his appearance would just come across as forced and doing more harm than supposed good, because making him Asian would mean rewriting a significant portion of who he is and what has gotten him to this place.

In other words, writing a character is very complicated. Rewriting a character without losing much of what makes him who he is in the first place can be even more challenging. These things do matter, and Marvel is right to preserve essential aspects of this character moving forward.

Spider-man once had eight arms in the comics. Tony doesn’t drink (anymore) in the comics. Bucky was a child when he was teammates with Steve. Sam was originally a gang member. Don’t tell me Dr. Strange and Iron Fist have to be white because of comics canon when the movies change things all the time.

The difference is that none of these niche examples you provide are woven into what makes the character iconic. Spider-Man isn’t known for having eight arms. Tony is known for having a drinking problem. It’s one thing to make updates to the source material, and it’s another to reinvent the character in order to suit an unrelated agenda. Didn’t we just go through this with Synder’s nonsensical take on Superman?

I’m not arguing that the Doctor Strange story couldn’t use some major tweaks in order for audiences to find it relevant and inoffensive. But we haven’t gotten any real indication from just one teaser (as all of these “writers” admit) what this movie is really going to be about and how these characters will be presented.

So, there you have it. The Doctor Strange trailer is bad, bad, and also bad. Is it possible to find something good in the movie itself? Is it even worth trying? 

sigh

Yes, Megan. It’s worth trying to find good in something related to comics. You know, your blog’s namesake. If you have to ask whether or not it’s worthwhile being optimistic about movies, then maybe they just aren’t for you.

doctor strange trailer


Hey! If you’ve come across a silly article that deserves the Snarcasm treatment, send it my way via Twitter or the comments below!

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

Snarcasm: The Director of Batman v Superman is Way Smarter Than Us

Zack Snyder idiots

Snark + Sarcasm = what you’re about to read.

Ever since the complete and utter disaster that is Sucker Punch, I’ve kept a watchful eye on Zack Snyder as a filmmaker. I found Watchmen to be a fantastic adaption of the comic, despite some minor flaws. 300 blew me away with how Snyder was able to stylize action scenes without resorting to cheap editing tricks. And who doesn’t love Dawn of the Dead?

But something strange happens when you hand a guy the keys to one of the most important film franchises of all time after he doesn’t do a stellar job the first time with Man of Steel. And we’re starting to see some of that piping bowl of crazy that occurs when people expect a human being to be…well, Superman.

Now, I’m not here to review Batman v Superman, as I haven’t seen it yet and don’t have an opinion. But analyzing some of the conversation and buzz surrounding this film, you’d think that the Marvel Civil War was already happening, but between fans and critics, with Jon Negroni swooping in Snarcasm style whispering,

snarcasm

First, let’s take a look at Snyder’s first…decision. Sadie Gennis reported this story on TV Guide:

Zack Snyder Explains Why Grant Gustin Isn’t The Flash in Batman v Superman

That’s…an interesting topic to bring up during the marketing of your prequel to what you hope to be an Avengers-level success. But fine, let’s discuss this because it’s been bothering huge Grant Gustin fans like me since episode one.

Snyder: I just don’t think it was a good fit. I’m very strict with this universe and I just don’t see a version where [Gustin’s The Flash would work]… that [tone is] not our world.

Really? The main character of an extremely successful TV show doesn’t “fit” in a universe where you’re repeatedly striking out with feature films? Gee, maybe Gustin isn’t a good fit for Snyder?

To be fair, the main consensus from critics and fans alike (so far) is that Ben Affleck makes a great Batman, so that casting decision is at least solid. Same goes for Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. But what strikes me as insane is how one of the comic relief characters of this DC team has to fit a darker, more serious tone.

zack snyder
“Look! He smirked! NOT SERIOUS ENOUGH.”

I think most people who’ve actually watched The Flash would agree that Gustin has plenty of talent, CW resume notwithstanding. He’s certainly capable enough to contend with the writing of David Goyer, who managed to warp Ma and Pa Kent into nihilistic psychopaths.

Snyder: Even if Grant Gustin is my favorite guy in the world and he’s very good, we made a commitment to the multi-verse [idea], so it’s just not a thing that’s possible.

It’s this kind of tone-deaf logic that continuously turns me off to Snyder has a director. He has no sense of momentum or build up, because if he did, he’d understand that the payoff of connecting a well-established and successful TV series with a movie that extends the scope of these characters would more than surpass the milestones set by The Avengers.

It’s not possible? Neither is making a Justice League movie feel earned when we know absolutely nothing about these individual characters going in. And if Batman v Superman is as mediocre as the critics claim, then maybe Gustin is better off.

Sadly, that’s not all, folks. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Snyder commented on the bizarre collateral damage of Man of Steel:

Snyder was mystified when someone told him that they couldn’t think of a movie in recent memory that’s had as much collateral damage as “Man of Steel.” “I went, really? And I said, well, what about [‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’]?” the director says. “In ‘Star Wars’ they destroy five planets with billions of people on them. That’s gotta be one of the highest death toll movies in history, the new ‘Star Wars’ movie, if you just do the math.”

There’s more to this than I think a lot of people are grasping. Because at first glance, it may seem that Snyder is completely off his rocker, considering the damage done in Force Awakens was inflicted by the villain, so the analogy makes no sense.

People aren’t put off by collateral damage because there’s a lot of it. They were annoyed that it was mostly caused by Superman, and he spent more time punching Zod through presumably filled skyscrapers without stopping to consider his actions or show any restraint. He doesn’t even attempt to move the fight away from the populated area.

zack snyder
“Eh, I’m sure no one was in there.”

But something else is even more irritating, and that’s the context of his answer. Snyder is simply playing a math game, assuming the person making the comment was merely saying that the damage done in Man of Steel is comical because of its size, and Snyder’s first reaction is to correct him, not try to understand the criticism.

This gets to the heart of Snyder’s bizarre personality as a filmmaker who seems to have zero self-awareness. He makes the same mistakes in every movie because his apparent arrogance keeps convincing him that everyone else is wrong, and he’s right. It’s this kind of confidence that probably keeps him employed, but how long can this hold up?

In this same interview, Snyder admits that he crafted this superhero universe as an intended continuation of themes he explored in Watchmen. And here’s what he thinks about the obvious criticism that comes with this weird mixing of two polar-opposite franchises:

“I was surprised with the fervency of the defense of the concept of Superman,” Snyder says of his detractors. “I feel like they were taking it personally that I was trying to grow up their character.”

snarcasm
“33 years old to be exact. Not like Jesus, though.”

Look, Superman has changed plenty of times over the years, and very few people are against taking some creative liberties with the character. But when you warp the identity and motivations of the most popular superhero of all time in order to balance it nicely with the purposefully grim superhero movie you made seven years ago, then don’t get offended when the obvious backlash comes.

In other words, take your own advice.

People aren’t taking it personally that you’re “growing up their character.” They’re taking it personally that you don’t even seem to care about what they think.

That said, I still hope I enjoy Batman v Superman. I may not like Snyder at all right now, but I’d much rather have a great time watching two of my favorite characters on the big screen than shake my head in disappointment. Unfortunately, nothing about any of his decisions so far have lead me to get my hopes up.


Hey! If you’ve come across a silly article that deserves the Snarcasm treatment, send it my way via Twitter or the comments below!

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

 

Snarcasm: I Hate The New ‘Suicide Squad’ Movie Because It Exists

suicide squad trailer

A new Suicide Squad trailer dropped this week, and pretty much everyone is in love with it. Everyone, that is, except for a few holdouts who are still complaining about Jared Leto for some reason.

I love Jay from IndieRevolver. For those of you who don’t know, he runs the site and posts frequently as himself.

He has a lot of personality, which makes his writing fun to read. And since his latest piece about Suicide Squad trailer called out fans to defend it, I decided to give him the Snarcasm treatment. Because as you all know, I only do that to people I either dislike tremendously or respect tremendously.

Sorry, Jay. You had to know this was coming. Just maybe not from me…

Headline!

The New Suicide Squad Trailer is Here! …Cool?

 

Well, yeah.

Even if you don’t like the way the movie looks so far, I think it’s easy to find it cool that an actual Suicide Squad featuring lesser-known DC Comics favorites is coming to theaters in August.

But if that’s not good enough…Sweet!

Wayne’s World used the song better…

I don’t get this complaint. Both movies used it in their trailer, so they used the song the same way. Or is Jay just trying to make the argument that he likes a movie that’s been out for 23 years more than one he hasn’t seen yet? Either way, I think Wayne’s World is a weird rubric to judge our comic book movies by.

Maybe instead we should compare the music of Batman and Robin to this trailer, except everyone secretly hums Kiss From a Rose every time the light hits the gloom on the gray, so Jay’s point is actually strengthened.

Seriously, what the hell is this movie?

A movie we can’t peg yet. That means it’s different. Which means it’s exciting.

With each successive piece of this DC puzzle, I feel like we are front row for a slow motion train derailment.

From two trailers and a handful of marketing posters? I’m glad you don’t drive trains in real life, or you’d really start to freak out over nothing.

I like David Ayer and the cast he’s assembled, but nothing about this looks good at all.

“I like everything about it except for the part where things happen.”

OK, that’s unfair, but my point is that we’ve still seen very little of what the movie actually is, which Jay already pointed out above. How can you not get any value out of anything that’s being shown so far?

What would it take to please you, Jay? (Sofia Vergara voice) JAY?!

The Joker looks like a Hot Topic ad from 2000 had a baby with a Joel Schumacher directed Batman film. 

Yeah! The Joker should look, um, normal instead.

Also, I’m pretty sure I’ve never met anyone who likes Hot Topic AND is hardcore enough to have tattoos. Green hair, maybe.

I can’t think of anything I want to see less than this Joker sharing the screen with the autotuned voice of Ben Affleck.

First off, even Cinemablend agrees with me that Batfleck’s voice is downright sexy. Also, how dare you?

There are at least billions of things I want to see less than Jared Leto and Ben Affleck sharing screen time in a comic book movie. Like Ben Affleck and Christian O’Donnell sharing a screen together at all, for example.

Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn looks like the ONLY reason to watch this film.

This cracks me up. Mostly because the majority of the trailer is centered around Harley Quinn’s humor and insanity. Sure, other characters pop up, but she’s clearly the driving force. So, shouldn’t you love this trailer more?

Theoretically the DC films should be for me. Growing up I leaned toward the DC heroes more than Marvel, but these films all look terrible,

I think the problem (and I don’t say this lightly) is you, Jay. Because everything about this trailer screams the DNA of DC.

For one thing, it’s full of camp. And don’t tell me as a DC fan that Batman comics aren’t incredibly exaggerated on purpose. Also, you’re complaining about a trailer where a machine gun from a helicopter fires in sync with Bohemian Rhapsody. And it’s not good enough for you? JAY?!

We can argue about whether or not this new Joker walks the line between madness and camp. That’s a fair argument, and we haven’t seen enough to feel OK about it. But don’t tell me a movie where Harley Quinn rattles on about the voices in her head after we just watched Beard Smith fire rounds from his arms on top of a police car “doesn’t look good at all.”

which is sad because I want to love them so much.

Clearly.

But they lose me more as each new piece is revealed.

I think he’s also referencing the Dawn of Justice trailer, which I can agree seems a bit worrisome. Too much is revealed and Lex Luthor looks hit or miss. But come on, Jay, don’t tell me you didn’t hear the Justice League theme song when the Trinity walked in slow motion toward Doomsday. Don’t lie to me, Jay.

Who is actually excited for these DC films?

Pretty much everyone except for you and Donna Dickens. And bless her, but Dickens’ only real criticism is something we can’t even judge until the movie comes out.

Someone please explain it. Bring me back.

I guess it’s up to me.

clears throat

Jay. I want to talk to you about two little movies called Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man. Now, I know these were made by a different studio, but let’s be honest. DC is clearly studying these guys like a test that’s in 15 minutes.

When the first trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy came out, people were in two camps:

“Oh, this looks interesting. I’ll probably see it.”

“What? This is weird and has never really been done before. So it’ll be a disaster.”

Now, when every trailer for Ant-Man came out, people were in two camps:

“Oh, this looks interesting. I’ll probably see it.”

“What? This is weird and has never really been done before. So it’ll be a disaster.”

What about Fantastic Four? What did people say about that movie?

“Human Torch is black?”

“Give the rights back to Marvel.”

So fret not, Jay. Because even if Suicide Squad isn’t some sort of reincarnation of The Dark Knight, or worse, even if Dawn of Justice is somewhat disappointing, neither movie will be as bad as Fantastic Four.

Oh, and they’ll be (like I said earlier) different.

Not original, obviously, but different. And different is interesting. Maybe it’s a little unsettling. Maybe it’s not necessarily good. But it’ll probably be worth your time.

Besides, we all know you’re going to watch it.

 

Hey! If you’ve come across a silly article that deserves the Snarcasm treatment, send it my way via Twitter or the comments below!

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

Podcast: Insidious 3, Spy, Movie News This Week

insidious 3 spy

Spy has been getting all of the praise lately, so what does Team Conspiring think about its success? Get ready for some heat, Paul Feig style.

We cover tons of movie news this week (including some comic news), along with some coverage of some recent trailers that just dropped. We also read your comments from the last episode and bring up this week’s topic of discussion.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What is a movie that you hate, even though everyone else loves it?

Enjoy the show! Let us know your answers to this week’s question in the comments. Or just hit us up on Twitter! We’re @NowConspiring. And don’t forget to rate/subscribe us on iTunes or the Stitcher app if you feel like it.

Our Song of the Week is “Beat of My Drum” by up-and-coming band, Powers.

You also heard these songs in this week’s episode:

“Wish You Were Here” – Lee Fields and The Expressions

“Don’t Carry It All” – The Decembrists

If Marvel Makes a Female ‘Teen Titans,’ This Should Be The Epic Lineup

I love it when Marvel creates new and interesting female characters that represent a twist in established universes. In recent years, they’ve written some incredible stories with these new superheroes (and villains).

And this year, Marvel announced an all-star team up of heroines led by She-Hulk. The core lineup consists  of Dazzler, Medusa, Singularity, and Nico Minoru. Though there are plenty more Marvel favorites that will make appearances, as you can see from the cover below.

female teen titans marvel

Now, I’m a big fan of Teen Titans, the D.C. storylines surrounding the younger counterparts to bigger heroes. I’m not a comic-book writer, and I don’t want to be constrained to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So I propose a killer animated TV series that puts “Teen Titans Go” to shame. I would call it, Teen Avengers. 

Yeah, I know. Original.

This new lineup would have to be a shakeup of relatively new characters and new twists on older characters. I would take tremendous liberties with the source material to make it happen, but I think you’ll like the end result if you open your mind. So here’s my dream lineup without context:

Sharon Carter, Thor, Ms. Marvel, Abyss and Spider-Woman (AKA Spider-Gwen).

female teen titans marvel

OK, let’s get the context started.

In order for this team to make sense, I have to walk you through the actual story I have in mind. Don’t worry, we’ll just stick with the cliff notes, though keep in mind that this would be an alternate reality in which everyone’s age would be younger than what’s established.

Let’s begin!

INTRO

The series would open on Mars, and we’d be introduced to Abyss and her brother Ex Nihilo. An “Aleph” has helped them terraform Mars into a hospitable planet as their guide. They’re members of The Garden, a group of creation avatars that go to worlds and “plant seeds” to make them better worlds. Those “seeds” usually result in planets being completely wiped out, and The Garden now has Earth in its sights.

female teen titans marvel
Abyss (left); Ex Nihilo (right)

Abyss and Ex Nihilo have unique powers in the comics. Abyss has mind manipulation, while Ex Nihilo is more of a powerhouse. Their plan is to terraform Earth by wiping out its inhabitants. The image above shows you a pretty good snapshot of their motivations.

FAN GIRL

In the next scene, we see a teenage girl typing on a computer in New Jersey. She’s Kamala Khan, who will eventually become Ms. Marvel. She writes fan fiction about the Avengers and is a huge fan of this world’s Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers).

female teen titans marvel

Kamala goes to a party and tries to fit in, but she has a panic attack after coming in contact with a strange boy. He follows her home and reveals that he is Alaris, an Inhuman in disguise. He tells Kamala that she’s a descendant of the Inhumans, and she passes out in shock.

She dreams of Captain Marvel, who asks her, “Who do you want to be?” Kamala replies, “I want to be you.” She awakens with strange powers and is unable to control them.

AGENT CARTER

We’d then shift to the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, where Sharon Carter (niece of Peggy Carter from Captain America and Agent Carter) is working. They’re flying over New Jersey, where Inhuman activity has been detected. Sharon is in her late teens at this point, so she wants to prove herself to the director, Maria Hill. So she leaves the Helicarrier alone and uses her sleuth skills to find the Inhuman without starting a fight.

female teen titans marvel

SIBLING RIVALRY

Meanwhile, Abyss and Ex Nihilo have nearly arrived on Earth. Ex Nihilo tells Abyss that their plan will be to transform creatures into better creatures, starting with the most troubled. He points to a person in New Jersey who is struggling to control her powers. Abyss reluctantly agrees to pursue this,  though she regards in how beautiful the planet already is.

WITH GREAT POWER

female teen titans marvel

In New Jersey, Kamala tries to go through her day, but her powers are becoming more chaotic. Finally, she accidentally causes a car accident and her fists enlarge. Everywhere Kamala goes, she makes a mess, and now police are trying to subdue her. Of course, their bullets don’t work.

Sharon Carter arrives, unarmed, and tries to calm Kamala down. It almost works, as Kamala tells Gwen her name and they connect for a second, until someone swoops in and covers Kamala in webbing.

A girl in a white costume comes in and complains she had to come here all the way from Queens. It’s Spider-Gwen, the alternate version of Spider-Man, in which Gwen Stacey is bit by a radioactive spider instead of Peter Parker.

female teen titans marvel

A battle ensues, and it’s somewhat an even match. Sharon keeps trying to stop the fighting, but Kamala feels too threatened to back down. Finally, Abyss and Ex Nihilo arrive. Ex Nihilo defeats all of them easily and takes Kamala with him, despite Abyss’s please that she’s just a kid.

ASSEMBLE!

S.H.I.E.L.D. arrives and takes Gwen into custody, while Sharon tries to explain herself. On the Helicarrier, Sharon tries to explain to Maria Hill and the rest of command what happened, but none of them know who these strange creatures are that took Kamala. Sharon brings up the nature of Ex Nihilo’s divine powers, which convinces Maria to “make a call.”

Later, Sharon meets with Spider-Gwen, who is being held for questioning. She asks Gwen who she is and where she got her powers, but Gwen’s not interesting in sharing any origin stories. She just wants to get out of there and save Kamala, now realizing she was wrong to be so aggressive. Sharon tells them to let Gwen free so Maria and decide what to do with her, and then the entire ship quakes. Something has arrived on the hull.

female teen titans marvel

They go to the top to find an Asgardian getting to her feet. It’s Thor (the female version whose identity is a secret for now). Maria Hill called her to assist with this situation. They explain that Abyss and Ex Nihilo are from The Garden, powerful creatures who wipe out worlds to make them better. Asgard rules that Midgard (Earth) is under their protection from The Garden, and Thor has been sent to solve the matter.

TBD…

I could keep going, but you see where this is going, right? Abyss will ultimately betray her brother, Ex Nihilo and help Gwen, Thor, Kamala, and Sharon defeat him. Stopping The Garden ties each character together in their own S.H.I.E.L.D. sanctioned team up, which would make Sharon Carter their leader.

My reasoning behind each character’s inclusion is pretty simple. They all bring something different to the table, and they each represent core universes in Marvel pantheon, with the sad exception of Iron Man and Hulk’s worlds. But that could be remedied.

female teen titans marvel

Sharon Carter represents the justice and strong leadership of Captain America, though not in name. Thor is the walking Deus Ex Machina. Spider-Woman (or Silk if we want to be liberal with the source material) is the quirky science whiz with tons of potential. Abyss is the former villain that people aren’t as familiar with, making her role dynamic over time. And Ms. Marvel is the wildcard. She represents us trying to figure this new world out that we’ve just been introduced to. She is, after all, a super fan writing fan fiction.

What do you think of my story idea? Send me your questions, comments, corrections, and suggestions!

Thanks for reading! If you like this blog, you can subscribe for weekly updates by clicking the “Subscribe” button on the right sidebar. Or just follow me on Twitter for the latest updates – @JonNegroni

When Disney Makes A ‘Big Hero 6’ Sequel, They’ll Almost Certainly Bring Back Tadashi.

I’ve been hanging on to this theory since before I even watched the movie back in November. In fact, the movie itself almost confirms that this is what will happen when Disney ultimately makes the Big Hero 6 sequel.

Oh? You don’t think there will be a sequel?

Here we go.

tadashi big hero 6 sequel

Big Hero 6 is one of the riskiest animated movies Disney has ever made. Period. They’ve never spent that much money to make a film based on something so obscure. Even Wreck-It Ralph and Meet the Robinsons looked better on paper to a Disney executive.

And it paid off. On top of getting the Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Movie, Big Hero 6 made half a billion in the box office. Only Frozen and The Lion King have made more money than this film.

That, and it’s based off of a serial comic connected to Disney’s other money-making machine: Marvel. And if there’s one thing Marvel and Disney know how to do together, it’s making Marvel sequels.

tadashi big hero 6 sequel

Keep in mind that although Disney has traditionally shied away from making sequels to its flagship animated features, they’ve also learned from Pixar and even DreamWorks that sequels are worth doing if the creatives behind them want the story to be told.

That’s why even Wreck-It Ralph is getting a sequel, and Frozen is of course getting milked in all sorts of media. Even though it’s not in development yet, Big Hero 6 is almost 100% for sure getting a sequel. And it will probably be called…

Big Hero 7.

tadashi big hero 6 sequel

That “7” will belong to a character we know from the first movie: Tadashi. I’m calling it right now. He’ll be a villain of sorts in the sequel, inevitably joining the team fully to add that number (after all, Big Hero 6 2 is just weird branding).

But wait! Tadashi isn’t a superhero. He’s not even alive!

Only one of those statements is true, considering he was a hero, as proven by your belief he died.

tadashi big hero 6 sequel

Let’s put on our flashback hats and revisit just what exactly happened to the older brother of Hiro Hamada.

Hiro wanted to get accepted into the robotics program at the university where his brother and friends attended. To do this, he had to impress Callahan amidst a competitive group of other scientific geniuses. Somehow, a fire broke out, trapping Callahan. Tadashi, Hiro’s older brother, ran back inside to save him, but the building exploded moments later.

tadashi big hero 6 sequel

Later, we learn Callahan survived by accessing Hiro’s microbots, but it appeared Tadashi didn’t make it.

Look, if you know anything about movies, it’s that if there’s no body, that character is alive. That’s just a rule. I’m not the one who made it up.

tadashi big hero 6 sequel

Second, the inclusion of a fire is tantamount to how this theory works. Where do you think it came from? Most likely, one of the inventions, and no one else apparently died from its flames.

I believe this invention had to do with nuclear energy. Why? Because Big Hero 6 (and Disney) is purposefully setting up Tadashi to be Sunfire, one of the original members of the first Big Hero 6 team and a prominent character in the Marvel universe.

One of the inventions, or even something special about the fire itself, must have given Tadashi abilities that would protect him from harm, ultimately transforming him into Sunfire.

Now, I imagine a good number of you already assumed this because you know certain things. Well, here’s some more ammunition for you to spread around.

Sunfire is a Japanese mutant (like X-Men mutant) who can absorb heat and turn it into plasma. In the comics, his mutant powers were triggered by radiation from Hiroshima. He’s been in comics since the 1970s as an Uncanny Avenger, member of the X-Men, and of course, a member of the original Big Hero 6 team.

tadashi big hero 6 sequel

One important thing to note is that Marvel is currently forbidden from even using the word “mutant” in its movies, making it difficult for them to use any characters from the X-Men side of Marvel. But they have managed to find wiggle room with characters like Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, who have many affiliations.

The same can easily go for Sunfire, and his story arc is already perfectly progressing. When Sunfire reluctantly joins Big Hero 6 in the comics (after being found by Hiro, no doubt), he actually gets possessed by their enemy and becomes a villain.

tadashi big hero 6 sequel

I doubt the movie would use this villain, who is known as Everwraith, because he’s literally the combined legion of souls destroyed by the atomic bombs that fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That’s tough to write out. But Disney could easily find another way to leverage this story arc to create some compelling narrative surrounding Hiro and his lost brother.

After all, can you imagine a fight between Tadashi/Sunfire and Baymax/Hiro? That would make Revenge of the Sith look like The Babysitters Club.

tadashi big hero 6 sequel

And hey, if Elsa can have ice powers…

My biggest evidence for this theory being true is the fact is that this all fits way too perfectly for Disney not to do it. I can’t even imagine what else the writers should or could do to make the sequel even bigger than the first movie, which frankly suffered from being too much of an origin story instead of a movie about superheroes actually being superheroes.

tadashi big hero 6 sequel

Big Hero 6 is one of the most beautiful animated films of our time, and a beacon of the Disney Revival. And that’s why I think it deserves a sequel that delivers a story that is just as sincere and passionate as the first one.

And hopefully, more of the team outside of Hiro and Baymax…


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